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Hurricane Isaias Makes Landfall In North Carolina; 155,000 American Dead of Covid --Trump: "It Is What It Is"; President Trump Sets September 15th Deadline For Sale Of TikTok. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 4, 2020 - 05:30   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thank you so much for joining us on EARLY START. I'm Boris Sanchez in for Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Nice to see you this morning, Boris. I'm Christine Romans. It is about 32 minutes past the hour this Tuesday morning.

And breaking overnight, Isaias making landfall near Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. Right now, more than 350,000 customers in North Carolina and in Virginia are in the dark.

Now, the storm downgraded last hour to a tropical storm but it still packs a dangerous punch here. There have been calls this morning for water rescues; fires and building collapses in Oak Island and Ocean Isle Beach. Those areas now threatened by heavy rainfall, flash flooding, storm surge, damaging wind, and now, reports of isolated tornadoes.

In Garden City, South Carolina, floodwaters submerging parking lots and streets.

This morning, more than 112 million people face some kind of threat from this storm. New York City bracing for what could be the strongest winds to hit that city since Superstorm Sandy.

SANCHEZ: And it's also very concerning that this is the earliest I- named storm that we've seen and we still have another three months- plus to go of hurricane season.

Now, at this hour, the storm is churning north along the east coast.

Let's go live to Virginia Beach and bring in CNN's Brian Todd. Brian, how have conditions changed there since we last spoke with you?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris, they've gotten a little bit worse since you and I spoke about a half-hour ago. You know, local officials have been hitting on the point over the past couple of days, this is a very dangerous, life-threatening storm. The fact that it's been downgraded to a tropical storm doesn't mean much when you're getting pounded with winds that feel like hurricane- strength winds and a lot of rain. We've just gotten a little bit of rainband coming in right now. The rain has come and gone because of the churning nature of this storm.

But we did dodge a bit of a bullet a short time ago. We talked about a tornado warning that was in effect at the top of the hour. Now, that has come and gone.

They had some cells that could have formed a tornado northwest of here in the Yorktown area of southern Virginia. That has come and gone. And we do not have any confirmed touchdown, but we still have to get some initial reports and hopefully, we'll get those in just a minute as to whether any kind of a tornado touched down. But that's going to be a danger in this area throughout the day.

You are not going to see high tide here, Boris, for another five hours, but that's part of the problem. When high tide does come in any of these areas in southern Virginia, it's going to be an issue because in this area of southern Virginia you've got a lot of small rivers, tributaries, creeks that are very narrow.

When the water does not have any place to go, that's when you get -- going to get some of the worst flooding, and they are bracing for that in this area. They've given hundreds of tons of free sandbags to people to shore up their homes because the last time tropical storm and hurricane-force winds came and rain came through this area there was a lot of flooding and people are very, very concerned about that.

Another big challenge -- you know, we've talked about this since this tropical storm formed in the southern Atlantic when we knew it was going to come up through Florida and this area -- what are they going to do when people need to take shelter amid the coronavirus pandemic?

That is a struggle that people here -- local officials here have been dealing with, as well as officials in North Carolina. We're going to see if they have to get some people into shelters. So far, they're doing pretty well here but that's going to be an issue later on today.


So, a lot of wind and rain coming here, Boris, and flooding later on today, especially here in the Virginia Beach area is going to be an issue as we get hit. We know there are going to be downed trees and powerlines. We've already gotten reports of those this morning in this area near Virginia Beach. Roads closed because of downed trees.

At least 5,000 customers here, just in Virginia Beach, without power, Boris, and that number is certainly going to grow in the next few minutes.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and further complicating things is what we haven't mentioned -- the fact that this storm is happening amid the coronavirus pandemic. And every stage of preparation and recovery from this storm -- TODD: Right.

SANCHEZ: -- is further made more difficult because of the fact that we have to keep in mind that there's this virus out there that is so dangerous.

Brian Todd in Virginia Beach. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: Yes, just making landfall moments ago. And let's look at who faces the biggest threat from Isaias this morning.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri tracking the system for us, and it's a long system. You point out just how long the watches and warnings go up the coast.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, 1,500 miles. That's what it was when I came -- from making landfall -- or skirting past the state of Florida, I should say, all the way towards making landfall into the Carolinas. And then, the watches and warnings extend into coastal areas of Maine.

So we're talking about a storm that we've really not seen anything like. You've got to go back to Hurricane Donna back in 1960. The National Hurricane Center confirming that was the only other storm that has prompted this widespread of a tropical storm warning that has extended essentially up towards the Canadian border -- and that's the concern. That's the exact track those features are expected to take within the next 12 or so hours.

Very quick-moving at this point. So we'll expect this to push in past D.C. sometime within the next three to four hours; possibly around Philadelphia, on into New York within the next six to eight hours. And again, could still be a tropical storm.

We expect those winds to be the strongest we've felt since late October of 2012 across New York City. That was with Superstorm Sandy.

So again, it could be a major, major player when it comes to power outages. As you've noted, hundreds of thousands of customers already without power across North Carolina on into portions of Virginia.

So, 50 to 60-mile-per-hour gusts. You'll notice the gusts will want to die down by about 8:00-9:00 p.m. across New York City. That's when they peak across Boston -- up to 50 miles per hour at that point.

That is enough given the forest canopy across this region. Of course, the trees come down very easily and especially at this time of year when trees have reached full maturity. This is really going to be an issue across this particular region with widespread outages.

Another area we're watching is the tremendous rainfall forecast in places such as Washington and Philly. And really important to note, when it comes to getting heavy rainfall guys, about 10 percent of that water becomes runoff if it's on natural ground, like grass. But put it over a major city, 55 percent of it becomes runoff on concrete and that is really the concern going into the major metro cities of the northeast -- guys.

ROMANS: Yes. So, New York, New Jersey, you think 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. eastern time -- that's when the strongest winds will be?

JAVAHERI: Absolutely.

ROMANS: All right.

JAVAHERI: About 50 to 60 miles an hour.

ROMANS: Wow. All right, thanks so much for that, Pedram -- Boris.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: And, Christine, back to COVID-19. The numbers just keep rising. As of this morning, 155,000 Americans now dead of coronavirus.

President Trump's own CDC expecting 1,000 Americans to die every single day for the next three weeks, but the president does not appear moved.


JONATHAN SWAN, REPORTER, AXIOS: And so, when they hear you say everything's under control, don't worry about wearing masks -- I mean, these are people -- many of them are older people, Mr. President.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's the definition of control? Yes, under the --

SWAN: It's giving them a false sense of security.

TRUMP: I think it's under control. I'll tell you what.

SWAN: How? A thousand Americans are dying a day?

TRUMP: They are dying, that's true, and you have -- it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague that beset us.


SANCHEZ: It is what it is. That is cold comfort to friends and family of a Georgia couple who both died last week.

Eugene and Angie Hunter were taking precautions, wearing masks, but they still got sick. They were only in their 50s and they leave behind a teenage son.


JUSTIN HUNTER, 17-YEAR-OLD WHO LOST PARENTS DIED OF COVID-19: At first, I was very angry, very sad, and very confused. My parents are in a better place and they aren't suffering at all. They're probably up there partying and having fun. And second of all, God's got my back.


ROMANS: In New York, sheriff's officers arresting people on a party boat they say violated emergency orders with 170 people onboard. Gov. Andrew Cuomo calling that cruise reckless, rude, irresponsible, and launched this fierce rebuke of the national pandemic response.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Every American knows this was the worst government blunder in modern history.


Not since the Vietnam War have Americans sat in their living room to see the numbers on the T.V. screen, every night, saying what a mistake it was. During the Vietnam War, every night you saw the death toll -- you saw the injury toll on T.V.

Every night, they've seen this virus increasing all across the country and the death toll going up. You don't think they know it was a mistake then you don't know the American people. They are smarter than you think.


ROMANS: Restrictions tightening in New Jersey now where Gov. Phil Murphy is rolling back public gatherings to a 25-person maximum from 100 people earlier.

Meantime, after dipping in July, traffic at the nation's airport climb to new pandemic-era highs this weekend.

And overnight, CNN learned some schools in hard-hit Miami-Dade could open in person. District schools are starting remotely but 139 charter schools could go their own way.

SANCHEZ: Congressman Louie Gohmert getting a rebuke from his own daughter after testing positive for coronavirus.

His daughter, Caroline, writing on Twitter, quote, "Wearing a mask is a non-partisan issue. The advice of medical experts should not be politicized." She says she does not want her father to die and adds, quote, "It's not worth following a president who has no remorse for leading his followers to an early grave."

Gohmert was, of course, scheduled to fly on Air Force One to Texas with the president last week. That's the only reason he even got tested.

ROMANS: All right.

Opening schools a major issue facing families nationwide. Economists at Goldman Sachs say while reopening is a risk, the cost to the economy of keeping schools closed is also significant. Closures are directly tied to employment; also, food providers for schools, and small businesses in college towns.

And countries with successful reopenings have significantly lower rates of spread than the U.S. still has. That's really important here. Early studies show younger children are less likely to transmit the virus even though it can live inside their sinuses. And children over 10 can pass the virus, as we know, as easily as adults.

SANCHEZ: The U.S. Postal Service says, in no uncertain terms, it has the capacity to handle all mail-in ballots for the November election. President Trump has questioned its ability to do so -- listen.


TRUMP: They're using COVID to try and get the mail-in ballots. Now, absentee ballots are great. Absentee ballots, they have to request them. They go through a process -- they get them. But the universal mail-in ballots, that turned out to be a disaster.


SANCHEZ: Now actually, mail-in voting is not a disaster. Nine states vote primarily by mail and another 35 allow it with no excuse. With much more vote-by-mail expected amid the pandemic, there have been allegations that cost-cutting at the Postal Service will hamper ballot delivery.

Two critical states are now making it easier to vote by mail. Nevada just approving a plan to mail ballots to all registered voters, something the president argued is illegal. Spoiler alert, it is not. Also, to limit the spread of COVID, Minnesota just dropped its requirement that mail-in ballots be witnessed.

ROMANS: All right.

The Census Bureau plans to halt its counting operation one month earlier than expected. The Trump administration planned to extend the deadline for counting the U.S. population to October 31st but it's now been moved up to September 30th in order to quote "accelerate the completion of data collection."

The shortened timeline is expected to fuel fresh criticism about the accuracy of this process since roughly four out of 10 households nationwide have yet to be counted.

The census, of course, is critical. It helps determine how much funding cities get for schools, infrastructure, and much more.

We'll be right back.



ROMANS: All right. Overnight, Chinese state media accusing the U.S. of trying to steal TikTok. Now, President Trump has set a deadline for the sale of the social media app and suggested the United States Treasury could get a cut of the deal.

CNN's Hadas Gold live in London. Bring us up to speed on this.

HADAS GOLD, CNN REPORTER: Yes. So overnight, we were getting a lot of statements from Chinese state media which can really be seen often as sort of the voice of the Chinese government. They were calling it everything from a theft of a Chinese technology company, calling it a smash and grab, a power grab.

This, of course, brings up the question of even if this deal gets made, will it be accepted? Will ByteDance agree to sell off TikTok because I'm sure there's going to be lots of conversations and pressures behind the scenes in China?

Then, of course, we got the sort of unusual statement from Trump saying that he thinks the Treasury Department should get a cut of the deal. He was comparing it almost like a landlord and tenant agreement.

But experts that CNN has spoken to say this has no basis in antitrust law and they just don't understand how the Treasury Department could justify somehow getting a cut of this deal.

Overall, though, of course, this -- all of this conversation has a very important message being sent to investors right now just about how future deals involving Chinese companies might be worked out.

A lot of people are paying close attention to this deal because there's a lot of other Techsters out there. We're talking about 10 Cent and WeChat. And we recently heard from the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying that Trump is due to take action in the coming days on other Chinese apps. We just don't know what that means.

And we're staring, really, into what we've seen as more of the stratification of the Internet of these companies. We have sort of two different Internets around the world.

Big question, though, of course, for investors and for a lot of businesses right now is this valuation. How much is TikTok going to be worth? I've seen some numbers of around about $40 billion to $50 billion for TikTok. Obviously, very viable.

TikTok says it has more than 100 million users in the United States and even more if you consider that Microsoft will not only control, under this deal, TikTok and the U.S., but also Australia, and Canada, and New Zealand. This could be a huge deal for Microsoft right now, worth a lot of money.

ROMANS: The concern, of course, from the U.S. point of view is that this is somehow a security risk for all those people who are using it for their information. People -- a lot of young people who use -- using TikTok. But, you know, that's sort of the complaint there.


But it does show how the U.S.-Chinese relationship has really deteriorated here and how business is on the -- on the frontline there.

Hadas Gold, thank you so much for that from London for us this morning.

SANCHEZ: Sean Hannity, who in the past has gone back and forth over whether he is a journalist, now leaving no doubt he is acting as an arm of the White House and the RNC.

The Fox News host is partnering with the RNC to raise money for Trump's reelection campaign. E-mails authorized by Trump headquarters promise anyone who donates $75 or more to the campaign will get a signed copy of Hannity's book.

Fox rules supposedly bar employees from participating in campaign events.

ROMANS: All right.

The Boeing 737 MAX one step closer to flying again. The FAA says it believes the fleet has been sufficiently fixed so pilots are no longer the failsafe for a faulty computer design. The agency is requiring updated flight control software, revised software to generate alerts, and a revision of certain flight crew operating procedures.

The 737 MAX was grounded, of course, after two crashes killed 346 people.

Police in Aurora, Colorado are apologizing after officers drew their weapons on the wrong car in pursuit of a stolen vehicle. Now, the officers mistakenly targeted a woman, her two young daughters, and two teenage nieces, and even handcuffed some of them.

The City Council in the Denver suburb has now appointed a new police chief and banned the police use of chokeholds, which was used in the death of an Aurora teen last summer.

SANCHEZ: Twelve people hospitalized in Wyoming after a hot air balloon crash. Three sightseeing balloons carrying a total of 36 people crashed to the ground. This was about 12 miles northwest of Jackson Hole. It appears the pilots experienced an unexpected downdraft of winds that forced the balloons down.

ROMANS: Terrifying.

All right, check your onions. A California company is recalling all varieties of its onions in 50 states and Washington, D.C. after a salmonella outbreak sickened hundreds of people in 31 states. The salmonella was traced back to red onions sold by Thomson International in Bakersfield, California. Their white, yellow, and sweet onions have also been recalled over fears of cross-contamination.

SANCHEZ: It sounds like an episode of "GILLIGAN'S ISLAND" except for the rescue at the end. Three men set out last Thursday in a 23-foot boat, winding up washed ashore on a tiny South Pacific island. When the men did not arrive at their destination in Micronesia, the U.S. Coast Guard in Guam organized a multinational search.

Fortunately, they were found after writing that SOS message you see on the left side of your screen. They wrote it on the beach sand. They were spotted by a U.S. Air Force tanker and later picked up by a patrol boat.

ROMANS: All right.

Taking a look at markets around the world this Tuesday morning, Asian shares are closed for the day. European shares have opened higher -- nice gains there in Europe. And on Wall Street, futures -- look at those right now -- mixed here.

Look, against the backdrop of Main Street pain, Wall Street is flying high. The Dow closed up 236 points. The Nasdaq up 1 1/2 percent. That's another record. The Nasdaq up something like seven percent just in the month of July.

The disconnect is really notable here. It was the worst quarterly GDP by a long shot last week. Tens of millions of people have now lost the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits as the stimulus expired, but stocks are soaring. Working people suffering, markets are up, notable here.

Convenience store operator Wawa is testing a new way for people to shop in the pandemic. A new drive-thru convenience store will debut in Pennsylvania in December. Just like ordering burgers and fries, shoppers will pull up, place an order, and an employee will bring it to them. If the line gets too long, there's curbside parking and orders can be brought to the car.

Now, that tradition of back-to-school shopping is on hold for many families and that's bad news for many businesses. Brands like The Gap, American Eagle, and Urban Outfitters rely on revenue this time of year and new analysis from Bank of America shows retailers will lose a lot of revenue as businesses remain closed and families stay mostly at home.

But technology could be a bright spot. The expectation is more people will spend on devices that help with remote learning.

SANCHEZ: A Washington State teenager who disappeared for nine days has been found alive. Eighteen-year-old Gia Fuda was discovered on Saturday near Highway 2. That's about 70 miles east of Seattle.

Her mom says she ran out of gas and simply thought she could hike her way out of the woods.


KRISTEN FUDA, GIA FUDA'S MOTHER: She was a little afraid but, you know, she's very religious and she just prayed and she knew -- she knew she'd make it out. BOB FUDA; GIA FUDA'S FATHER: And the outcome could have went either

way. And for it to go this way with being out there for that long in those elements is just -- it's a miracle.


SANCHEZ: It is. Gia drank from a creek and ate berries during her ordeal to stay alive. Creek water and berries, quite the diet.


ROMANS: Eight days.

SANCHEZ: I'm glad she's OK.

ROMANS: Can you imagine? Ran out of gas and spent eight days in the woods.


ROMANS: Yes, glad she is OK.

All right, thanks for joining us this Tuesday morning, everybody. Hope you have a great day. I'm Christine Romans.

SANCHEZ: And I'm Boris Sanchez. "NEW DAY" is next.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, August fourth, 6:00 here in New York.

And breaking overnight, Isaias made landfall in North Carolina and today is predicted to bring the strongest winds to New York City since Superstorm Sandy.

The storm hit as a category one hurricane. It's now weakened slightly to a tropical storm. Isaias has already caused widespread blackouts.